This documentary short follows an activist as he obtains a job at a factory farm to expose the abuse that the chickens suffer inside. Director Josh Polon holds nothing back in Andy Goes In, and the shocking images will cause most people to think twice the next time they order chicken. Polon answered a few questions about his film and the importance of the disturbing images. The short screens as part of Short Cuts Programme 8 at TIFF 2016.
Describe your film in ten words or less.
An undercover investigator exposes abuse at a chicken farm.
What inspired you to make this film?
My friend in Los Angeles works at Mercy For Animals, the organization that sends “Andy” on his missions. I had seen their undercover videos online for years and always wondered about how that footage is acquired. What’s it like for an investigator to drive to a small town, take a brutal farm job, wear a hidden camera, and hope he’s not discovered? It’s the stuff of spy movies.
So last summer I asked MFA if I could track an investigation from up close. They introduced me to Andy, and within two weeks he was hired in rural Tennessee and sending me his footage every night. A few weeks later I flew out to join him during his final days on the job.
What was the best thing about production? Most challenging?
The best part was getting to know Andy. He’s like a real-life Ethan Hunt who has to lie through his teeth with total integrity. He’s the kindliest person you’ll never meet. We joked around and played a lot of video games.
The most challenging was sifting through his dozens of hours of undercover footage. It was stomach-turning, and made me appreciate MFA’s video staff who wade through this type of footage all year long, case after case.
The images can be quite shocking in your film, but do you feel it’s necessary and important so that people understand the conditions that these animals are placed in?
That’s why the images are in there. I’m not vegan; I don’t run my diet from my conscience like I should. That said, it’s impossible to see what happens at these factory farms and not feel disgusted, and it’s impossible to see the lengths that Andy goes to and not pause for a moment the next time you’re ordering a chicken sandwich.
What’s the one thing you want people to know about your film?
These birds are your Chicken McNuggets.
Your film is screening as part of TIFF. What are you most excited about seeing or doing at this year’s festival?
Eating from the movie buffet.